November 1, 2012

Honda to Mark 30th Anniversary in U.S. by Hiring 200, Investing $200 Million in Ohio

Honda celebrated its 30th anniversary of building cars in the U.S. today by announcing it will invest $200 million and hire 200 people in Ohio. According to The Detroit Free Press, investments at the Anna Engine and Honda Transmission plants near Marysville bring Honda's investment in U.S. auto manufacturing to $12.5 billion, including $8 billion in Ohio, since the first 1983 Honda Accord rolled off the line on Nov. 1, 1982. About $170 million and most of the jobs are at Honda's engine plant in Anna, Ohio, which already has more than 80 independent lines for engines and components. Expansion and renovations include a fourth engine line to eventually replace its oldest engine line No. 1 that opened in 1989. The new line will be highly automated with the flexibility to produce an engine. The expectation is that the line will make a direct-injection version of the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that can be paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in the redesigned 2013 Honda Civic. Honda also will disclose later this month the exact Ohio location for a new plant to make the revived NSX sports car. Click here for coverage of how Honda is celebrating its 30th year in America.

How Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath will Affect the Auto Industry
The effects of Hurricane Sandy are expected to ripple across the auto industry, reports AOL Autos. In the short term, the superstorm is expected to hurt October sales figures, as dealerships across the Eastern Seaboard missed several days of sales. But in the months ahead, analysts expect the storm to boost an already-burgeoning industry as Sandy's victims replace damaged vehicles. "If anything, it'll make November an interesting month to watch," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for Edmunds.com. The storm decimated a region that accounts for approximately 20 percent of all U.S. car sales. Early estimates say the halt in sales could cost automakers as many as 100,000 units in October figures, but delayed purchases could beef up November numbers instead. Luxury brands could potentially see the biggest temporary dips in their numbers – and potentially the biggest longer-term rewards. The New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. markets account for 25.4 percent of all Acura sales, 23.6 percent of Mercedes-Benz sales, and 23.2 percent of BMW sales, according to an Edmunds analysis of Polk car registration data. Popular car brands in each market could also see numbers affected. For more on how Hurricane Sandy could impact the auto industry, click here.

Mercedes Pitches $5,000 VIP Discounts to Hold U.S. Lead Over BMW
Mercedes-Benz, guarding its U.S. luxury-auto sales lead, is letting some buyers skip more monthly payments than BMW and offering as much as $5,000 discounts to "VIP customers." Mercedes introduced a program for 2012 models sold through this month that included cash offers and special lease deals, according to an Oct. 2 memo to dealers. The automaker in an Oct. 5 e-mail to dealers also announced a promotion for the month that lets some current Mercedes owners forgo as many as five payments. Mercedes leads BMW by 5,221 sales in the United States through this year's first nine months. According to Automotive News, BMW last year outsold Mercedes and Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus, which had been hurt by vehicle shortages after natural disasters in Asia. Lexus had been the top-selling luxury-auto brand in the U.S. for 11 years. The five-payment program introduced by Mercedes is similar to a promotion that BMW is using this month. The automaker mailed owners of most of its 2010 models an offer to waive as many as three payments to buy a new or certified used vehicle, according to an Oct. 10 notice sent to dealers. Click here for the latest on the luxury sales race.

Nissan Starts Offering Discounts to Flood Victims
In a gesture likely to be repeated by other automakers, Nissan says it is going to offer deep discounts on new vehicles starting today to Hurricane Sandy victims who lost cars to flooding. USA Today reports that Nissan says it will give the same discount that it allows when its own employees buy new vehicles. Financing will be discounted as well. The discounts will apply only to those living in federally designated disaster areas. The offer is good through Jan. 2. "Nissan is a major player in the Northeast region with more than 225 dealers in the affected areas and is eager to lend a hand," said Brian Carolin, a Nissan senior vice president in a statement. Nissan's finance arm, Nissan Motor Acceptance, is going to let eligible customers defer payments up to three months. It is also allowing payment extensions up to three months. Starting Friday, Nissan says it is creating a subsite on its employee pricing website to explain the offer to flood victims. Thousands of vehicles were believed to have been lost when floodwaters swept through coastal New Jersey and other sections of the Northeast. Click here to read more about what Nissan is doing to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Gap Grows Between Vehicle Sales and Consumer Reports' Recommendations
Models such as Volkswagen AG's Passat and Honda Motor Co.'s Civic, which lost Consumer Reports' coveted recommended status in August 2011, are among some of the biggest gainers in the U.S. auto market this year. According to Automotive News, the disconnect shows that buyers can be more forgiving in showrooms than testers are in labs as industrywide quality gains bring automakers closer to parity. "The overall competitive set from all manufacturers has become so good that, for some of us so-called experts in the industry, perhaps our expectations have gotten almost impossible to reach," Alec Gutierrez, an analyst for researcher Kelley Blue Book, said. Consumer Reports said the Passat "lost some of the sharpness of its predecessors" in its initial review. Consumer Reports said in August 2011 that the Civic felt like an "insubstantial" ride, with long stopping distances and loud road noise. Deliveries surged 40 percent through September to 234,029. The model is on pace to retake the compact car segment lead this year after dropping to No. 3 behind the Toyota Corolla and the Chevy Cruze in 2011. Click here to read about differences between the cars shoppers are buying and those that are recommended by Consumer Reports. Read more about Consumer Reports list of recommended vehicles for 2012 here.

Around the Web 
2014 Mercedes E-Class Revealed in Spy Photos [AutoGuide.com]
30 Years of American Built Honda Accord [Autoblog]
Lexus Pursues Hipper Crowd with New Ads for LS Sedan [Forbes]
Toyota Launches Avalon Livery Model [WSJ]

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